I'm not sure where to start. I have maintained my 34 lb. weight loss for 6 months, but after a December of WAY too much food, my jeans are tight. I already know the verdict must be at least a 5 lb. gain, and I'm scared of getting on the scale. Perhaps since I already know the verdict, I may skip the scale for a week or so. At least I'm catching it now instead of 30 more pounds from now.
January is the perfect time to reassess and tweak one's eating habits. Out with the old year, and finally, the month of eating is over. At least in the U.S., no more holidays until President's day or Martin Luther King and those are not big eating holidays. If you are a football fan, you do have the Superbowl coming up, but fortunately, I see the Superbowl as an opportunity to get out and do things while the crowds are home watching football, so I skip that eating holiday. No, 2009 is an opportunity to look forward. In this spirit, I am reassessing some of my eating habits that have slipped back to my old ways during December and start the scale moving downward again instead of insidiously creeping upward. I am starting a read through of French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano and I hope you'll join me for it. We will take the next 4 Fridays to read through the book, assess what we're eating and change some bad habits.
Overture and Chapter 1: Vive L'Amerique: The Beginning...I am Overweight
I just love Mireille Guiliano's voice and writing style. I immediately identify with her. To me, she writes how my French exchange mother (also a Mireille) speaks, really down to earth, no nonsense, and with an air of "I know a big secret and here's how I do it". In these chapters, Mireille talks about her love affair with America and her journey here as a foreign exchange student. She fell in love with the country, the people, and also the food. She adapted some of our eating habits like eating on the run and eating just anything.
1. What are your bad habits? Do you eat on the run? Do you eat "just anything"? I had choir practice a few weeks ago and one of the members was eating a protein bar for dinner that she had found in the bottom of her purse. It was smashed and looked completely disgusting to me and I asked her, "That is REALLY your dinner? Seriously, I think McDonalds would be better!"
Chapter 2: La Fille Prodigue: Return of the Prodigal Daughter
In this chapter, Mireille returns from America 15-20lbs. heavier to the shock of her family. She is loathing the way she looks but becomes very busy at university in Paris. She continues her adopted American eating habits or eating anything on the run, and ends up gaining another 10 lbs. before returning home for Christmas break. Her mother enlists the help of the family physician "Dr. Miracle" to help her relearn her French "tricks" for staying slim and healthy. He asked her to keep a food journal for three weeks. Mireille was not only eating just anything on the run, she was eating solely pastries on the run!
1. Did you keep your food journal for December? If not, start keeping one now so you can see your petite offenders. Looking at my journal, I do eat a balanced diet consisting of whole grains, fruits and veggies, meat and fish, dairy. However, my portions have gotten out of control. In particular, I have a weakness for bread and butter. Last night for dinner, in addition to a 4oz. portion of prime rib, salad, and peas, I had 3 Hawaiian rolls with butter and a large piece of limpa bread with butter. Obviously that is WAY out of proportion and a wake up call on why my jeans are tight!
2. Dr. Miracle also "prescribed" having a leek soup weekend as a way to kick off Mireille's new way of life. When I first read French Women Don't Get Fat, I skipped Leek Soup weekend as I was too scared to go a whole weekend with nothing but leek soup. Sometime around last April, after another trip to Hawaii, I tried the Leek Soup weekend but only made it a day and I was supplementing it with crackers! Mireille says the biggest benefit of Leek Soup weekend is that it gives you an immediate mental jump on healthier living. Leeks are a slight diuretic, and after eating Leek Soup for the weekend, you should see a weight loss of 2-3 lbs. This is enough to give anyone encouragement! I also think it serves to help shrink your stomach so you can start paring down your portions without discomfort. If you are brave enough to try Leek Soup weekend, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! As for me, I am going to try a Leek Soup Day tomorrow (for lunch and dinner, I just don't think I can stomach leek soup for breakfast) using my leek soup recipe. If you are interested in Mireille's, I'll show it below.
Magical Leek Soup by Mireille Guiliano from French Women Don't Get Fat
2 lbs. leeks
1. Clean the leeks and rinse well to get rid of sand and soil. Cut off the ends of the dark green parts, leaving all the white parts plus a suggestion of pale green.
2. Put the leeks in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes. Pour off the liquid and reserve. Place the leeks in a bowl.
3. The juice is to be drunk every 2 to 3 hours, 1 cup at a time.
4. For meals or whenever hungry, have some of the leeks themselves, 1/2 cup at a time. Drizzle with a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Season sparingly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if you wish.
5. This will be your nourishment for both days, until Sunday dinner, when you can have a small piece of meat or fish (4-6 oz.) with 2 vegetables, steamed with a bit of butter or olive oil, and a piece of fruit.
Chapter 3: Short-Term Recasting: The First Three Months
Here is where you ask yourself the necessary questions essential if you are going to conquer your weight long term. What is going on here? Why have I gained weight in the first place? My answer is boredom eating. When I'm busy, I often forget about my stomach, when I'm not, it's all I think about! I also tend to overeat in social situations when there is an abundance of food. I just want to try everything and have a hard time stopping when there is so much food on the table (hence December was a hard month for me.)
Rounding up the usual suspects
1. What are your petite offenders? For me:
bread, bread and more bread
Mexican food, particularly refried beans
Slow and Steady
1. Try to stay away from your offenders, those foods of which you have no will power. Add lots of other foods to add excitement to your culinary repertoire so that it feels as if you are going on a culinary adventure rather than depriving yourself of your favorites.
Your homework this week (and really for the next three months--start slowly!):
1. Don't stock your offenders
2. Add more water to your life. Start with adding one glass upon waking and another upon going to bed. This will add two (that was easy!) and add from there until you are drinking at least 8 glasses a day.
3. Eat slowly, savor every bite. Only eat off plates and sitting down at the table. Do not eat while watching T.V. or reading the paper. (Getting rid of the morning paper at breakfast is a habit I have yet to break)
4. Weigh your foods and slowly start cutting back on your portions little by little.
5. Find substitutes for your offenders so that you do not feel as if you are depriving yourself. When I first found French Women Don't Get Fat, my offenders were all things salty (of which I see that creeping back into my current offenders!). My substitution was a tea called Genmaicha Green Tea. This tea was a bit salty, and when I was really craving it I would add a little more salt to the pot. This was a no calorie substitute and I satisfied my craving for salt. Win-win!
6. Eat scheduled meals so you are not hungry.
7. Carry a healthy snack with you so you are not tempted to eat just anything if you are out and get hungry.
Bonne chance! Tune in next Friday for Chapter 4-6!